Thursday, December 2, 2010

Men Supporting Mothers through COL

Learning from Community Media:
Participation, Education & Development
By James Achanyi-Fontem
Sir John Daniel, the President and CEO of the Commonwealth of Learning, COL, Prof. Asha Kenwar and Ian Pringle respectively, are names that media professionals, who attended the 6th Pan COL held at Kochi, India from the 24th – 28 November 2010 will live to remember for consolidating partnerships on how the agenda of Mother and Child Health Care can be taken one step forward.“Linking Media to Health Development”, which Cameroon Link addressed, was demonstrated through a Radio in a Box experiment at the Meridien Forum Centre in Kochi.throughout the period of the forum attended by over 600 delegates.
The Vice President of Col, Prof. Asha Kenwar, who also doubles as the Programme Director, was taken live on “Radio Commons” at the PCF6 Centre. This COL Forum Initiative aimed at showing how all sectors of the community can be involved in project design, decision making, execution, monitoring and evaluation for Mother and Child Health Care promotion.
The WABA Men’s Initiative Coordinator and Executive Director of Cameroon Link highlighted the current project in Lebialem, south west region of Cameroon producing programmes on the issues of “Mother and Child Health Care” delivered through Lebialem Community Radio as a good example.
Cameroon Link mapped the community’s human resource, and gave equal participation opportunities for involvement of both men and women, including young persons living within the community to tell their stories as a Community of Learning process.
The involvement of men and youths in communities for mother and child health care support creates an enabling environment where men and youths, particularly fathers or partners, participate actively in sharing responsibilities with women as far as caring for their infants and young children is concerned.
In mapping the human resource capital, representatives are drawn from the radio station, the public service sector, traditional leadership, health, education, social welfare and civil society organisations. In effect, the mother and child health care community of learning action is participatory.
The small people in the community are used to address big issues. They are invited for exchanges and decision making meetings regularly. It is during the community development committee meetings that the issues are introduced. Those selected are people who are readily available and accept to service as volunteers, they are respected and accessible by their peers within the community.
During the process, it is often discovered that most of those elected for training to produce the radio programmes are already playing a role of animators within their community or development committee.
Almost every man or woman in the community is known to belong to a meeting group, where regular exchanges take place on weekly basis. Training the members of the orientation committee of local broadcasters only comes to add to their existing skills and capacity; especially as the language of delivery of the healthy community learning programmes for behaviour change is a popular local language.
Cameroon Link’s current activities focus on “Mother and Child Health Care” rights as part of the men’s advocacy channel for behaviour change communication.
As such, the health programmes,
• Continue to challenge trade laws that prioritize profit over access to life-saving possibilities.
• Create men’s, women’s leadership and ownership training opportunities within local communities by the establishment of or collaboration with local health area men/women gender councils and related health taskforces.
• Educate, inform, lobby funding organizations and service providers for the involvement of young persons, especially teen mothers in care and support activities,
• Promote social norm change campaigns through publications, participation in local community radio and television programmes, fostering relationships with media outlets and through well recognized male and female celebrities for the promotion of women and child rights.
• Participate in planning, organizing and broadcasting programmes during UN international and national days with women’s involvement in radio live shows and pre-recorded programmes on Mother and Child Health Care rights..

The Community Learning Programmes on Radio
* increase the awareness of need for and the value of male and youth to participate equqlly in the execution of the radio programmes.
* disseminate information updates on mother and child health care though the radio programme.
* create optimal conditions for the provision of support to the mother

Specific objectives
It is understood that the subject of mother and child health care is very vast and this explains the reasons for putting in place an orientation committee to discuss and decide on the issues treated during the week’s session. This explains why the specific objectives are:
- To inculcate the mastery of basic principles of mother and child health care.
- To advocate for gender equality and women's empowerment through government’s increased allocation for gender-sensitive policies and programmes.
- To vulgarize the main points on the support that mothers merits from their partners;
- To create radio mothers’, fathers’ and youths’ support clubs within the communities to encourage mothers to breastfeed their babies for the first six months exclusively and continue with complimentary feeding, thereafter with continued breastfeeding up to six months and beyond.
- To educate youths and men on the international code advocacy and monitoring of marketing by formula producing companies and distributors.
- To Organize HIV prevention and home care radio campaigns.

It is the role of the radio station to create conducive environment for their involvement of men and youths to appropriate and own the programme through their support to mothers.
- The other media, tv and newspapers, are used as complimentary channels and tools for community outreach on the involvement of men and youths for mother support.
- Youths Social mobilization conferences are organized in colleges for students of examination classes. This is seen as a special target in the community for the acceleration of behavior change.

Cameroon Link Activities Sheet
Cameroon Link, acting as COL Partnership Liaison makes sure that an activity sheet is designed and used for monitoring and evaluation. Key activities on the sheet are:
• Radio Press Releases
• Radio, television and video programming.
• Radio Press Conferences
• Past Events Film Screening on market days
• Recycling and organization of workshops for community broadcasters
• Seminars for community leaders and heads of educational institutions
• Organisation of panels recording of programmes.
• Photos, posters, story and drama competitions for colleges
• Lectures, educative talks, debates and testimonies
• Concerts, street drama, plays and theatres
• Community social mobilisation: Organisation of Radio Quiz, distribution of stickers, message leaflets, information kits and other promotion publications